When Microsoft launched SharePoint Server 2016, they said you’ll no longer have to wait for the next major release of SharePoint to obtain new features and functionality introduced in SharePoint Online.
They are following through with this concept by releasing SharePoint Server 2016 Feature Pack 2 in early September of 2017 nearly a year after Feature Pack 1 was released. Microsoft also just re-released Feature Pack 1 again in August of 2017 which is KB4011049. Personally, it seems like a long time in between feature packs considering how many changes have been made to SharePoint Online.
Feature packs, also called Public Updates or PUs, include all previous updates for SharePoint Server 2016 including the new features and functionality of Feature Pack 1, which means you don’t have to install any other updates before you install Feature Pack 2.
In addition to fixes a Feature Pack also includes some new features and functionality that have been deployed in SharePoint Online, and by this time they’ve all been thoroughly tested. I don’t know what is used to determine what is included in Feature Packs, but you can read more about what’s contained in Feature Pack 2 here.
I’m calling Feature Pack 2 for SharePoint Server 2016, Feature Pack 2 Lite, because there is one new feature listed, albeit very powerful, and this new feature is primarily geared towards development. This new feature is the SharePoint Framework (SPFx)
In the event you’re not familiar with the SPFx, it is a page and web part model that provides support for client-side SharePoint development, easy data integration with SharePoint, and support for open source tooling. This framework allows for the use of modern web technologies and tools in your development environment, therefore promoting the building of productive experiences and apps that are responsive and mobile-ready on SharePoint.
I’m also calling it Lite because there isn’t anything new for the IT PRO’s or a hybrid scenario. It does however contain some improvements and fixes associated with the September 2017 Security Update KB4011127 which is described here.
The delivery of Feature Pack 2 Lite by Microsoft is an indication that Microsoft is delivering, but I’m concerned about the depth of the delivery and the promise of keeping your on-premises SharePoint Server 2016 deployments updated with new features and functionality. I’m hoping this will be the only Feature Pack Lite we see from Microsoft.